Steven Maeda and Matt Owens were the showrunners of Netflix’s One Piece. They’ve shared about the challenges they faced during the series’ production. In an interview with Variety, Maeda expressed his thought that showing Arlong for a greater screen time instead of Don Krieg would stir up massive controversy among the fans.
Netflix’s One Piece is based on Eiichiro Oda’s best-selling manga and one of the greatest Shonen manga ever, One Piece. The first season of the live-action adaptation consists of 8 episodes, which trace through the first 100 chapters of the manga.
What did One Piece’s showrunner say regarding bringing McKinley Belcher III’s Arlong?
There was a prominent deviation from the manga, which made Maeda conclude that fans would be infuriated. They portrayed Don Krieg briefly compared to Arlong, who wasn’t supposed to be the first major villain in the series. However, according to Maeda, the Mangaka of One Piece, Oda blessed this decision himself.
“One that I’m sure will be debated endlessly was not leaning into the character of Don Krieg and bringing Arlong up as the Big Bad of the first season,” Maeda told Variety.
As to why Maeda thinks that giving Arlong more screen time than Don Krieg would rage fans out because they deviated from the source material.
In the One Piece manga, Don Krieg has a much longer arc than just the few moments he was shown in the Netflix series. He was the primary antagonist in the manga for Luffy and the Straw Hats. However, in the Netflix show, he appears briefly and then meets his demise at the hand of master swordsman Mihawk. On the other hand, Arlong actually appears way later in the series as a villain who has controlled Nami since she was a child.
How did Eiichiro Oda help the showrunners in improvising Netflix’s One Piece?
“We made these decisions, and Oda blessed it, to bring Arlong to Baratie, introduce him earlier than he is in the manga,” Maeda said and elaborated further upon how making Arlong the first major villain in the series helped the showrunners to “really ramp up towards the last two episodes so that Arlong is our Big Bad of the first season.”
There were other significant changes in the series, like how it was exposed halfway through the season that Vice Admiral Garp is Luffy’s grandfather.
The showrunners, Owens and Maeda, made a plethora of changes, of course, with Oda’s perspective on them. This included essential character details like changes in the appearance of the characters to align them with live-action versions of the Straw Hat members.
The entire mindset of extending and improvising the choices helped Owens, Maeda, and Oda to bring out this fantastic series. The mangaka himself played a massive role in supervising the entire series production. The showrunners didn’t want to copy the manga. Instead, they wanted the live-action to feel less like a cartoon, and Eiichiro Oda supported this decision.